Tag Archives: teaching kids

Back to basics . . . again

Abbi…on stage at her last play

Tonight, though very tired and extremely worn down from the day’s events and a lack of a car (don’t ask) I was about to go to bed – at the same time as my oldest, Abbi – when she said “oh, crud, I forgot.  I dropped my earring down the sink. I’ll have to find a way to do my hair differently for the play tomorrow.”

It was here I looked at my daughter and realized that there were a number of things that she just hadn’t picked up – and I know it’s my fault.

“Was the water running at the time?” was my response.
“When your earring fell down the drain, it was running?”
“Well, no, but it was running, I shut it off, then it went down.”
“Then I can get your earring.”

I, being the annoying, teaching father at this moment, asked her if she knew why they called the curved elbow of a pipe under her sink a “trap?”  She stared at me incongruously.
“Think,” I said.
“I get it, Dad.  It’s no big deal.”

By this point, however, though 11pm already, I was determined.

Of course, under the sink was a mad house . . . a MAD HOUSE!  to quote Mister Heston, but I managed to get the half dozen or so hair accoutrements out of the way.
“Get me that big, blue plastic bowl,” I said as I watched the puzzled face of my daughter move around the corner.  I put a towel down and began unceremoniously unscrewing the pipes that led to the PVC drainpipes under the sink.  Noticing too late that the pipe to the wall was a reverse thread, I’d already tightened it so tight I now couldn’t remove it.  Abbi was growing impatient.  It wasn’t worth the time, to her, to get a fake diamond earring out of the drain.

Yet a couple minutes – and a Craftsman massive wrench – later, I had the trap out.  I dumped the remaining water in the bowl and heard the “clink” of the metal on plastic.

“Yay!” I heard behind me.

“See . . . ”

“I know, Dad, that’s why it’s called a trap.  I already knew.”

This may seem a small, uneventful little thing.  However . . . if your 17-year-old daughter lost her earring; or if your son dropped his tie tack or cufflink down, would they be able to get it back?  Do they know maybe they shouldn’t run the water?

It reminded me of an event many years ago.  I had a very close reporter friend whose car battery had died.  I was already late for a planned dinner with Abbi . . . but I’m an old softie at heart.  I said I’d help.  The funny thing about this was her boyfriend was there, too, and he didn’t recognize any of the telltale signs.  Now – I get it.  My Dad restores old cars.  I grew up in the Midwest, changed my own oil, did my own repairs, know a lot of how to get by on a little.  I’m not asking the world to do that.

But when I informed them the battery was dead, both were just as flummoxed about how to get by as my 9-year-old sons would be now.

I sent them both, unceremoniously, to buy a new battery and got my toolbox out of the back of my truck.  (Yeah, I carried it with me at the time.  I don’t anymore, not as much winter and can’t fix the cars I drive – too computerized)  When they returned with the battery I had to remove a cover on the old one and broke out a set of Craftsman (endorsement hint, guys . . . endorsement hint . . . ) sockets and started to remove the bolts.

A similar set to my sockets – via Craftsman.com


“That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” came a male voice over my shoulder.
I was confused.  “The battery cover?  They do that a lot.  Stops heat, eliminates corrosion . . . ”
“No . . . that thing you’re using.  What on earth is that, it’s the most amazing contraption I’ve ever seen!”

Now . . . I’m not naive.  I know there are overly-sheltered people in this world.  I don’t expect my kids to know how to restore a 1949 Cadillac, but I do hope they can change their own tire or . . . oh, I don’t know . . . a battery.

“It’s a socket wrench.”
“A what?!”
“A socket wrench . . . a spanner . . . you know, wrench in the works . . . ”
“That’s just spectacular!”

I fixed the battery, told them where and how to recycle the old one, and left before my – as one of my best friends in the world put it – “monumental intolerance for stupidity” kicked in and I said something I’d regret.  I managed it.

This is what I’m hoping to avoid with my kids.  When I told my daughter to get my long, black Craftsman (hint, hint) pliers – something like a vice grip – out of the toolbox she came back with the exact tool.  While I may never have shown her before now how to salvage a lost item down the drain . . . now she knows.

Now, if I could just get her to remember how long the oil light’s been flashing on her car . . .

Do you do this Dad?

Homemade cookies from my kitchen

I was talking to my son last night and he mentioned how the roast he’d just had for dinner was “so tasty and moist.”  Before I get to the point, I was more than a little impressed that these are the words he’d use to describe his meal, not “yummy” or “great,” the typical adjectives of a 9-year-old.  But he went on a tangent to describe just how the roast was prepared, cooked, seasoned, all of it.  He knew more details about this meal’s preparations than I could have discerned myself.

“Do you do this, Dad?” was his next question.

The answer?  Well…yes, somewhat.

His curiosity was about the preparations, the utensils and the cooker used, all of that.  He was curious if this was something that I’d advocated and adopted as well.  It was.

My son, Noah, one of the 9-year-old twins of the family, is always very curious about how the meals are cooked and constantly asks if he can help to do the cooking.  Now, sure, it would be much easier to say I am in a hurry and tell him to go play Wii or other item but that would really not help things much.  He wants to help, even if it might take him twice as long as normal to do it, he’ll get it right.  I remember being that way as a kid and I don’t seem to remember being told “no” very often either.  If that’s my recollection than it’s best if I carry on that activity.

The other reason I do this is to have them all learn.  Even if they’re sitting there at the table or at the couch I make sure they hear what I’m doing.   When they ask what is in our dinner I tell them and recount how it’s made during dinner so that they get an idea of what’s contained and how we made it.  If I can’t get them all interested in learning how to cook at the very least I can get them to learn by Osmosis.

And Osmosis seems to be working.  I use that Crock Pot a lot…stew that cooks all day, using wine and fresh herbs and whatever else I have around to make it…and they lap it up.  I make a roast in there that’s “moist and delicious.”  I have made Minestrone and other soups and foods.  Chicken and biscuits.  You name it, I’ve tried to do it.  I’m not an amazing chef, I don’t suppose, but I can cook a meal.

So when my son asks “Dad, do you do this?” I can answer with a small amount of certainty: yes…yes I do.